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Cathar castles

A short events recall....

During the XIIth century, in the South of France, a christian religion different from catholicism
developped: catharism .

This new belief based on christianity but very critical towards catholocism was quickly spread
to all Occitany. To thwart this influence, the Pope Innocent III decided to start the crusade
against the Albigeans. This crusade was very shortly joined by a geopolitical war between the
northern and occitan lords. The Inquisition law court finished the last sieges and stakes against
the cathars. Although catharism was eradicated, it is still one of the symbols of tolerance,
freedom and open-mindedness of the occitan culture . It left its marks on this land and its
identity.

Nowadays, only a few traces remains of history. The castles, abbeys and museums of the
Cathar Country became symbols of this struggle : castles were used as refuge for cathars and
had to face many sieges ; the abbeys had to function to seat the catholic position and carry
through the crusade. Through the centuries, the monuments faces have changed but their
story will endlessly be linked to the tragedy of the medieval period.

The doctrine….

Catharism appears in the Occidental christianity during the middle of the XIIth century . This
medieval christendom dissidence praises, as many other movements of that time, to go back
to the origin of the primitive Church's model during the first years of Christianity . It
condemned Rome's Church and its hierarchy under pretext that it didn't follow the Christ's
ideal of living and poverty.

Under different names, the cathar communities have been attested through the whole
Europe, but it was it the Midi of the France and in the North and center of Italy that catharism
was really welcomed and lasted.

For Rome's Church, catharism was a worse danger than the infidels (Jews and Muslims),
because, although being christians, they didn't interpret the Holy Scripture in the same way
and refused the seven Sacraments doctrine.

Their belief was based on the existence of two worlds , one good and the other bad. The first
one is the invisible world, with eternal creatures, creation of the Holy Father ; the second one,
visible and corruptible world, is the Devil's work. Introduced in flesh bodies made by the Devil,
the fallen angels become men's and women's spirit.

For the cathars, the Christ was only sent by the Holy Father to bring down to the human race
the salvation message. He isn't the catholics redeemer of the whole sins. This is why cathars
only have one sacrament , the « consolamentum » (consolation) or hands imposition baptism
practised by the Christ, the only one able to give salvation.

The events that led to the cathars dissappearance in the Midi…

As others dissident or contesting contemporaneous movements, « the good men heresy » was
condemned by the papacy and so became the target of the catholic clerks, first cistercians (the
futur Saint Bernard came to fight them in Toulouse's area in 1145), then, during the XIIIth
century, mendicant orders (Dominicans and Franciscans).

Not able to make the cathars change their beliefs thanks to preaching, the papacy decided in
1209 to start against the cathars in the Midi, the first crusade taking place on christian lands
against heretics and those who supported them . It was the crusade against the Albigeans.

The king of France in 1209 didn't want to follow but 300 000 barons and Northern knights,
followed by their servants and henchmen, met at Lyon attracted by the Midi wealth. After
Carcassonne's siege, Simon de Montfort is promoted as the crusade's chief. From 1226 and on,
Louis VIII which succede to Philippe-Auguste on the throne of France decided to be part of the
crusade.

This struggle lasted for twenty years and induced to the political chessboard transformation in
the Midi of France ( fastening of Carcassonne's and Beaucaire's seneschalsy to the King of
France lands, and the submission of Raymond VII de Toulouse to the king).

In 1233, the Church decided of a new strategy by creating a judicial institution led by the
Dominicans : the Inquisition . The investigations conducted by the inquisitors, during the whole
XIIIth century and at the beginning of the XIVth century, had seriously deminished the number
of cathars in the Midi.

Real epilogue of the crusade against the Albigeans, the military operation against Montségur ,
siege of the cathar bishopric of Toulouse's area, marks a true turning in the cathar repression.
The fortress surrendering the 15th of March 1244, ends the dissappearance of the principal
refuge of the cathar hierarchy.

The arrest of the perfects Pierre and Jacques Authié in 1308 marks the end of the heresy in
Languedoc. The stake of the last Perfect known Guilhem Bélibaste at Villerouge-Termenès,
Narbonne's archbishop castle, sets the end nearly definitif to cathar history in the Midi.

Chronology

1179 the council of Latran III hits the cathar heresy

1208 15 th of January, the prelate Pierre de Castelnau send

by the Pope is murdered

1208 Pope Innocent III call for the crusade

1209 July, siege of Béziers

1210 siege of Termes

1218 Death of Simon de Montfort during Toulouse siege

1229 Treaty of Meaux-Paris

1242 thwarted revolt of Raymond VII and of his son


1244 16th of March, Montségur stake

1255 end of the struggle by the possession of Quéribus

1321 Death of Guilhem Belibaste

1659 Treaty of the Pyrenees

Source : http://www.payscathare.org/3-6270-Home.php

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Castles of Aguilar
The Château d'Aguilar is a 12th century Cathar castle located in the commune of
Tuchan in the Aude département of France.

In 1210 it was invaded and occupied by Simon de Montfort, whose soldiers took and
held the owner Raymond de Termes in prison in Carcassonne. Militarily, the castle lay
dormant for the next 30 years, until Raymond's son Olivier de Termes took back the
castle in the brief revolt against the young viscount Trencavel against the crusaders.
Aguilar became the refuge of faidits, Cathar knights and lords dispossessed of their
own strongholds.

The design of the castle reflects evolving military thinking of the late Middle Ages. It
consists of an inner keep built in the 12th century, surrounded by an outer pentagonal
fortification from the 13th century.It is oriented so that its point guards the side most
vulnerable to attackers.

The keep and the inner hexagonal fortification is flanked at each corner by semi-
circular guard towers, each with archery outlooks.The strategic location of the castle
on a hill overhanging the plain of Tuchan allows supervision of a significant area within
the corbières.The castle is easily accessible from the plains because of its relatively low
elevation of 321 metres.

A small underground chapel of Saint-Anne can be seen below the keep.The earliest
building at this location belonged to the count of Fonnollède in 1021.In the 13th
century, a keep that had replaced earlier buildings was bequeathed by the viscounts of
Carcassonne to their vassal, the family de Termes. (Termes is another Cathar Castle not
far away) In 1210 Aguilar was taken and occupied by Simon de Montfort, whose
soldiers took and held the owner Raymond de Termes in a dark dungeon in
Carcassonne.Militarily, the castle lay dormant for the next 30 years, until Raymond's
son Olivier de Termes took back the castle in the brief revolt against the young
viscount Trencavel against the crusaders. Aguilar became the refuge of faidits, Cathar
knights and lords dispossessed of their own strongholds.In 1246 a royal garrison was
installed to supervise the Aragon frontier.Olivier made an alliance with king Louis IX,
who purchased the castle from him in 1260. Despite the heavy fortifications, the castle
would be continually under siege by opponents of French rule until the 16th
century.This is one of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", along with Queribus, Termes,
Peyrepertuse and Puilaurens: five castles strategically placed to defend the French
border against the Spanish. It lost all strategic importance after the Treaty of the
Pyrenees in 1659 when the border was moved even further south to its present
position along the crest of the Pyrenees.
Since 1949, it has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of
Culture. Today it is in poor condition, and can be sited by the public.
Castles of Lastours
In the "Montagne Noire" massif, the site of Lastour features four castles: Quertinheux,
Surdespine, Tour Régine et Cabaret, perched on a ridge that overlook the valley from
more than 300 metres. A viewpoint on the opposite side permits to embrasse an
impressive panorama. A steep path allows to reach the castles from the bottom of the
valley..

The surrounding mountains, rich in metallic ore, has been exploited from the Roman
era. The occupation of Cabaret dates back to the VIth century. It gave the name
Cabardès to this region of the east of the "Montagne Noire". During the Cathar's time,
only three castles exist, the Régine tower will be built later. During the Crusade against
the Albigeois, Cabaret is besieged early from 1209 by Simon de Montfort. After several
long sieges and truces, Cabaret surrenders definitively in 1229..

After the Crusade, the castles are rebuilt and became a part of the France Kingdom,
the Régine tower is built at this time.

In the XVIth century, the castles are temporarily occupied by the Protestants who will
be dispelled in 1591. Finally, the castles were abandonned at the French Revolution.
Castles of Montségur
Without any doubt the most famous and the most loaded with history among the cathar sites,
the Montségur ruins are perched on the top of a rocky piton at 1200 metres of altitude, just
above the village of Montségur.

Cathar fief from the begining of the XIIIth century, Montségur became the symbol of their
resistance against the pope and the french king.

During the crusade against the Albigeois, the 28th of May 1242 by night, eleven inquisitors are
killed by a cathar commando coming from Montségur. From then on, the destiny of the
fortress and of its occupants was fixed. After a siege of 10 months during a very harsh winter,
the place surrenders and the 16th of March 1244, more than 200 cathar people was burnt at
the stake in Montségur. Today a stele recall their martyrdom.

Even if some other places have resisted a time more, this tragedy tolled the knell of the
catharism.

From 1232 Montsegur became the headquarters of the Cathar community in the Languedoc,
and a refugee centre for "faidits" - outlaws who had been stripped of their lands and goods by
the Roman Church. These faidits, exact counterparts of the more recent maquis, continued to
wage a guerilla war against the invaders.

After the failure of the uprising against the French invaders, the defeat of Henry III, King of
England by Louis IX of France, the events at Avignonet, and the capitulation of Raymond VII, all
in 1243, the Council of Béziers decided to destroy the last vestiges of Catharism. The Cathar
sympathisers responsible for killing the Inquisitors at Avignonet were known to have come
from Montségur in the the Pyrenees. The Council therefore decided to "cut off the head of the
dragon" by which they meant to take the château there, the last remaining major centre of
Cathar belief. The château, perched on top of a majestic hill (called a pog), had already been
reinforced.

The castle was besieged later in 1443 by Hughes des Arcis, Seneschal of Carcassonne for the
King of France. For months the siege was unsuccessful but shortly before Christmas a group of
Basque mercenaries scaled a seemingly impossible sheer cliff face, and overran a forward
position. From here, under the direction of a Catholic bishop specialising in war machines, the
French were able to construct catapults.

This spelled the end of all hope. The garrison surrendered on 2 March 1244 having negotiated
a truce of two weeks, after which the Parfaits would have to abjure their faith or burn alive.

The story of the siege of Montségur is one of the most moving of all the tragedies associated
with the war against the Cathars. Even the most hostile writers were struck by the significance
of events at Montségur, when against expectation the ranks of the doomed Parfaits increased
during the two weeks' truce.The site is spectacular, and well worth a visit.There are guided
tours from February to December.
Cathar stele - Castle of Montsegur
Castle of Peyrepertuse
Peyrepertuse is a ruined fortress and one of the Cathar castles of the Languedoc located high
in the French Pyrénées in the commune of Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, in the Aude
département.

It was associated with the Counts of Narbonne and Barcelona. It stands at 800m high.The
name of Peyrepetuse derived from Occitan and means Pierced Rock.The castle was built on a
strategic location by the kings of Aragon (lower) in the 11th Century and by Louis IX (higher)
later on. The two castles are linked together by a huge staircase. The castle lost importance as
a strategic castle when the border between France and Spain was moved in 1659, causing the
castle to be abandoned.The castle ruins are impressive, set high on a defensive mountainous
crag. Even from the approach road it is difficult to see where the rock stops and the castle
starts. There are in fact two castles here, the later one added to an original, pre-French one.

The lower castle was built by the kings of Aragon in the 11th century on a site dominating the
Corbières and the sea. The main part, resembles the prow of a ship, running along the top of
an 800m (2,600 ft) high crag. It houses the church of Sainte-Marie and the governor's
residence.

It was never subjected to attack during the Crusade against the Cathars. Nevertheless, it was
surrendered to the French Crusaders 22nd of May 1217, reclaimed again as the balance of
power chamged, but surrendered definitively in November 1240, towards the end of the
fighting.

Louis IX ("Saint Louis") appreciated the value of its defensive position. He built the higher
castle of San Jordi. (Saint George) further along the ridge. It includes the chapel and the
donjon San Jordi. The two buildings are linked by the huge staircase of Saint Louis and
surrounded by a curtain wall. The staircase is flight of more than 60 steps carved from the
rock, winding from the curtain wall to the citaldel.

This is one of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", along with Queribus, Termes, Aguilar,
Peyrepertuse and Puilaurens: five castles strategically placed to defend the French border
against the Spanish. The fortress was garrisoned with only fifteen or so men (governor,
sergeants, lookouts, and men-at-arms). It lost all strategic importance after the Treaty of the
Pyrenees in 1659 when the border was moved even further south to its present position along
the crest of the Pyrenees. Its importance declined and it was abandoned altogether at the
time of the French Revolution.

The castle of Peyrepertuse was listed as a historic monument in 1908.The castle lies on a 730
meter high rock and when the weather is clear you can see the Mediterranean Sea from
it.People have been living on the site of castle Peyrepertuse since Roman times. The castle is
first mentioned in 1050.
Castles of Puilaurens
The Château de Puilaurens (Occitan: lo Castèl de Puèg-Laurenç) is one of the Cathar Castles of
the Languedoc in what is now the South of France. It is located in the commune of Lapradelle-
Puilaurens in the Aude département.

The castle stands on a spur of rock above the Boulzane Valley and the villages of Lapradelle
and Puilaurens. There is a path from Axat to the castle. The castle here had belonged to the
Abbey of Saint-Michel de Cuxa before it was acquired by the King of Aragon in 1162. As
Aragonese property it was outside the territory ravaged by the Crusaders during the Cathar
wars. Like Queribus it therefore provided a refuge for those fleeing from the invading forces.
Those who took refuge there included both Cathars and faidits, that is to say those who had
forfeited their property because of their opposition to the invaders. These faidits included
high nobles, such as Guillaume de Peyrepertuse.

Somehow, it is not known how, Puilaurens was ceded to the French some time before 1255.
After 1258 its possession by the French crown was ratified by the Treaty of Corbeil, when the
Aragonese border was moved south. In 1260 it was garissoned by 25 sergeants.

This is one of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", along with Queribus, Termes, Aguilar, and
Peyrepertuse: five castles strategically placed to defend the French border against the Spanish.
It was taken by Spanish troops in 1635, but lost all strategic importance after the Treaty of the
Pyrenees in 1659 when the border was moved even further south to its present position along
the crest of the Pyrenees.

The present building mainly postdated the Treaty of Corbeil, and is thus principally French.
Some points of interest include the heavily defended steep zig-zagging approach path,
remnants of a barbican, meutriers (murder holes), and a spectacular donjon (keep). Most
impressive of all in the south-west tower (the White Lady's Tower) is a speaking-tube, built
into the stonework and allowing people to communicate from one floor to another - exactly
the same priciple later adopted in ships to allow voice communication between decks.
Castles of Queribus
This is sometimes regarded as the last Cathar stronghold. In a sense it was. After the fall of
the Château of Montségur (Occitan Montsegùr) in 1244 surviving Cathars gathered together in
the Corbières in another mountain-top stronghold on the border of Aragon (The present
border between the Aude département and the Pyrénées-Orientales département).

Quéribus is high and isolated. It stands on top of the highest peak for miles around. From a
distance it can be seen on the horizon, sticking up into the sky.It is accessible to visitors. You
can drive almost to it, walking just the last few hundred metres. The entrance to the castle
itself is very steep and narrow – a defensive measure. Notice the number of arrow slits
covering the approach.

1255 a French army was dispatched to deal with them, but they slipped away without a fight,
propably to Aragon or Piedmont, both regions where Cathar beliefs were still common, and
where the Occitan language was spoken. Perched on a narrow rocky outcrop, the castle stands
proudly at 728 metres altitude.Mentioned in 1020, the castle of Quéribus was part of the
County of Besalù, then of Barcelona and was later held as a royal fortress by the house of
Aragon in 1162.The castle of Quéribus is situated on the commune of Cucugnan which is
renowned in French literature as the site of the ‘Priest's Sermon' by Alphonse Daudet.A
‘Cucugnan family' appeared for the first time in 1193.

During the Crusade against the Albigensians, this family was presented as being one of the
fervent defenders of the Languedoc cause.

Before 1240, Pierre de Cucugnan took food and stores to Cathars in the castle of Puilaurens
and sheltered the dispossessed knight Guiraud d'Aniort from the Plateau de Sault.In 1240,
Pierre joined Raymond Trencavel at his siege of Carcassonne. Following the failure of the siege,
Pierre surrendered to the French King Louis IX ( Saint-Louis).

The castle of Quéribus continued to serve as a haven to Cathars. The Cathar deacon of the
Razès, Benoît de Termes, took refuge here under Chabert de Barbaira, who was finally forced
to surrender to Saint-Louis in 1255. The last stronghold to fall, eleven years after the fall of
Montségur, Quéribus then became a piece in the French frontere defence system.This is one
of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", along with Termes, Aguilar, Peyrepertuse and Puilaurens::
five castles strategically placed to defend the French border against the Spanish. It lost all
strategic importance after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659 when the border was moved
even further south to its present position along the crest of the Pyrenees.
Castle of Termenes
The castle, in the middle of the present village, had belonged to the Archbishops of Narbonne
until it was seized by Simon de Montfort and given to one of his lieutenants when nearby
Termes was taken in 1210.

It was here that the last known Cathar parfit, Guilhem Belibaste, was burnt alive in 1321 on the
orders of the archbishop.

The castle is open to the public and medival feasts are held here in the summer.

The castle is an irregular pentagon in plan, with round towers at four corners and a postern
gate at the fifth.

It was built between the XII - XIV Centuries by the Archbishops of Narbonne (Archevêques de
Narbonne)

Classé monument historique on 6 October 1976

From 1110 until the Révolution, the château and village belonged to the Archbishops of
Narbonne, except for the period when the crusaders siezed it. It was the seat of one of the 11
baylies of the archbishopric.
Castle of Termes
The Château de Termes is a ruined castle near the village of Termes in the Aude département
of the Languedoc. Built on a promontory it is defended on three sides by deep ravines. The
ruins of the castle cover an area of 16 000m².

Held by Ramon (Raymond) de Termes during the Cathar War , the castle fell to Simon de
Montfort after a siege lasting four months, from August to November 1210, the hardest siege
of the first period of the Albigensian Crusade.

Termes was a powerful castle sited on top of a large natural hill in the Corbières (in the present
departement of the Aude département but then part of the County of the Razès). It consisted
of a citadel within town walls (the castrum) and with a suburb (burg) next to it with its own
defensive walls. Like the Château of Montségur ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out
more about occitan. Montsegùr) it was protected by a separate forward outpost - this one
called Termenet. The castle is open to the public.

Its population at the time of the crusade is not known. In 1084 Pierre-Olivier became the lord
de Termes, but the first mention of a castle there dates from 1110. Guilhem de Termes,
rendered homage to the Viscountess of Narbonne en 1118 and Ramon de Termes rendered
homage to Roger Trencavel as Viscount of the Razès in 1137.
The incumbent seigneur at the beginning of the Wars against the Cathars of the Languedoc
was an old man also called Ramon de Termes, a vassal of Ramon-Roger Tranceval. (Ramon was
an extremely common name among the people of the Languedoc in the Middle Ages. It is an
Occitan name rendered in English and French as Raymond).

Steps to preserve the site were taken in the 20th century. It has been classified as a monument
historique since 1942. Since 1989, it has been the property of the commune of Termes. It is a
15 to 20 minutes walk from the village and open to visitors.The site offers impressive views of
the Terminet Gorges.Steps to preserve the site were taken in the 20th century. It has been
classified as a monument historique since 1942. Since 1989, it has been the property of the
commune of Termes. It is a 15 to 20 minutes walk from the village and open to visitors.

The site offers impressive views of the Terminet Gorges.

There is no evidence that Raymond of Termes was himself a Cathar, though his brother
certainly was. Benedict of Termes (Benoît de Termes) had been a Cathar representative at the
Colloquy of Montréal in 1207, the final debate in Pamiers with Dominic Guzmán representing
the Catholics. (The public failure of the future Saint Dominic and his colleagues at this debate
had been a contributary factor to the calling of athe Albigensian Crusade by Pope Innocent III
soon afterwards). Benedict was elected Cathar Bishop of Razès in 1226 at a council held at
Pieusse. The only other circumstantial evidence of a Cathar connection is that Lords of Termes
were constantly squabbling with the Abbey of Lagrasse over their respective rights. On the
other hand this sort of dispute was normal at this period even for the most pious Catholic
rulers.Following the fall of Minerve and Carcassonne in 1209 and Minerve and Bram in 1210,
Simon de Montfort and his Crusaders failed to take the three châteaux at Lastours (Cabaret).
He turned his attention to Termes. The Château of Termes was besieged for seven-months
between June and 22nd November 1210. Simon's siege machinery arrived from Carcassonne in
August, the transport party having been harried along its 30 km journey south east from
Carcassonne by Raymond of Cabaret. His commanders included the counts of Dreux and of
Ponthieu, the archbishop of Bordeaux, and the bishops of Chartres and of Beauvais. His forces
were supplemented by contingents from Bavaria, Saxony, Frisia, Maine, Anjou, Normandy,
Brittany, Lombardy, Gascony and Provence.

Initially de Montfort saw little success, but he was heartened by the arrival of a steady stream
of fresh crusaders. They initially used their mangonels to bombard the southern walls with
large stones. They managed to breach the walls but not to force an entry and the defenders
seem to have been able to repair the breaches after repelling the attacks. De Montfort
changed tactics and managed to take the forward defense called le Termenet. From then on it
was a battle between the crusaders' and the defenders' catapults.The summer was extremely
dry, and unusually there had been no rain by November. Both sides seem to have become
disheartened. The crusaders were keen to go home before winter - they were required to
serve for only forty days ("quarantine") to earn their remission of sins past and future and win
a guaranteed place in heaven. The crusader army therefore depended on a regular turnover of
new arrivals to replace those who left. By November many of the key commanders were ready
to go and started packing up. Inside, the defenders were running out of water and thirst drove
them to come to terms.
On the night before they were due to render the castle the heavens opened and heavy rains
refilled the castle's water cisterns. It looked like the defenders were saved, but the
demoralised defenders had failed to anticipate the downpour, and had not cleared the empty
cisterns of dead animals. Disease swept the Château, and the seigneur Raymond of Termes
decided to evacuate the garrison. They escaped in the night of 23rd November, possibly
through a secret tunnel. Accounts vary, but one way or another Raymond of Termes was
captured. According to one version of the story he was trying to go back into the besieged
castle having once got out when he was caught.

He was imprisoned at Carcassonne and died there three years later in de Montfort's custody -
just as his liege lord the young Raymond-Roger Tranceval Viscount of Carcassonne had before
him. Raymond's son, Oliver de Termes, continued the fight after his father's death. He fought
alongside Jaime I King of Aragon, the young Raymond (later Raymond VII Count of Toulouse),
and Raymond Trencavel Viscount of Carcassonne - all four men of the same generation and all
victims of the Crusade. He was with the meridional army at the siege of Carcassonne in 1240
trying to re-establish the Trencavels to their city and Viscounties. After the failure of this
enterprise he submitted to the French king, Louis IX, and accompanied him on crusade to the
Holy Land.

The indingenous people were disheartened by the fall of Termes and surrendered the nearby
castles at Coustaussa and Le Bézu without a fight. De Montfort went on to besiege Puivert.

After the château of Termes had been taken, it and another château nearby (le Termenès)
were given to Alain de Roucy, one of Simon de Montfort's lieutenants. De Roucy experienced
exactly the same problems as Raymond had with the voracious Abbots of Lagrasse. At his
death his son ceded Termes to the Archbishop of Narbonne in 1224. It passed to the King of
France (Louis VIII:) in 1228. Termes continued to be of strategic value to the French as it lay
near to the border with Aragon (to which it had belonged before it was captured and annexed
by France). Termes is one of the "Five Sons of Carcassonne", five Royal castles strategically
placed to defend the border against Aragon. The others are Aguilar, Peyrepertuse, Queribus
and Puilaurens.

In 1302, the garrison included a châtelain (a castillion), an écuyer (a knight), a chaplain, a


guetteur (look-out), and ten sergents. In 1649 the border with Spain was movedfurther south
under the Treaty of the Pyrenees and Termes lost its strategic importance. In 1652 Richelieu
ordered the castle to be abandoned and demolished. The walls were destroyed by a master
mason from Limoux using explosives, between 1653-1654. The ruins were listed in 1942 and
became a "monument historique" only in 1989 when they became the property of the local
commune and were opened to the public.

Today, the modern village of Termes down by the river is home to some 50 inhabitants. A
short walk from the modern village of Termes are substantial ruins of the Château on a hill top
nearby, including the vestiges of an extensive system of forward defenses. The ruins stand at
an altitude of 470m on top of a hill surrounded on three sides by a ravine formed by the river
Sou. You can see where le Termenet, the forward outpost, protected the fourth, most
vulnerable, side. Few of the remains date from the Crusade only part of the southern face of
the outer curtain wall, the inner wall and some of the buildings it protected. The rest is the
work of royal engineers in the second half of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th

The cross-schaped window it is possible to see in the chapel of the castle of Termes
Castle of Puivert
The Château de Puivert is a Cathar castle situated in the commune of Puivert, in the Aude
département of the Languedoc. This building, on top a hill overlooking the village and its lake,
reaches an altitude of 605 m.In the twelfth century a castle stood on this site, which had
strong Cathar and troubadour links. A meeting of troubadours took place here in 1170, and in
1185 festivities attended by the Viscount of Carcassonne and Loba, Lady of Lastours (Cabaret).

The castle has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since
1902.The castle of Puivert is still in relatively good condition. It is privately owned, but open to
the public and undergoing restoration. At the meeting of 1170 a troubadour called Peire
d'Auvergne penned a satirical Occitan poem which concluded with the words At the start of
the Wars against the Cathars, the so-called Albigensian Crusade, Puivert's seigneur was
Bernard de Congost. His wife Alpaïs had become a Parfaite before her death just a year earlier
in 1208.

In November 1210 the Castle was besieged (just after the fall of Termes) by Simon de
Montfort, and fell after three days. The dispossessed Congost family carried on the fight
against the invaders.Bernard died after receiving the Cathar Consolamentum at Montségur in
1232. His son fought on, participating in the events of Avignonet in 1242 and helping defend
the Château of Montségur ( The Name in Occitan. Click here to find out more about occitan.
Montsegùr) in 1243-4.

In 1213 the seigneurie, now in French hands, was conferred by Simon de Montfort on one of
his lieutenants, Lambert de Thury. Later it was allocated to Pons de Bruyère.

At the start of the 14th century, probably around 1310, Thomas de Bruyère, grandson of Pons,
built the present castle, to the east of the old "Cathar castle". His wife was Isabelle de Melun,
daughter of a Grand Chamberlain of France, whose arms are still to be seen in the building.

One room has fine carvings of minstrels, and tourists are often told that troubadours played in
this room. This is absolute rubbish, but if you look behind the castle you will find the
foundations of the earlier castle where troubadours really did play.

The castle, 600 meters (1970 feet) above sea level, is sited on a green hill top (Puig-Vert).
Perhaps the significance of the name is that most castles in the area are not on green hill tops,
but rocky mountain tops.

Of all the Cathar castles, Puivert is one of the best preserved. With its35 meters high keep in
which four splendid rooms are superimposed, its towers incorporated in its enclosure wall, this
castle dominates the old glacial lake of Puivert below.

You can climb to the top of the donjon (keep) from where you can see the Quercorb plain to
north and the peak of Bugarach to the east. To the west you can just see Montségur with the
the high Pyrenees behind it. The pall of black smoke rising from Montségur on the morning of
16 March 1244 would have been clearly visible from here.

The castle was classified as an Historic Monument (Monument historique) in 1907


Castle of Roquefixade
The Château de Roquefixade is a ruined Cathar castle built on a cliff overlooking the village of
Roquefixade. It lies 8km (5 miles) west of Lavelanet in the département of Ariège in Southern
France.

There are records of a castle on the site going back to 1180, though the present ruins are more
recent. A castle on this site provided refuge for Cathars at the time of the Cathar wars
(Albigensian Crusade).

The Château de Roquefixade has been listed as a Historical Monument (monument historique)
by the French Ministry of Culture since 1995. It is open to the public.
Castle of Rennes

Castle of Durfort
Castle of Saissac

Castle of d'Usson
Languedoc map

Lastours
Batle of Toulouse

The fall of Montsegur 1244


Peyrepertuse

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